The striking girl students in Rewari's Gothda Tappa Dahina village today ended their stir after the Haryana government announced that their school would be upgraded to senior secondary level. A principal has been deputed in the Government High School at the village and the admission process commences tomorrow, Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said in a press conference today. The group of 86 girls of class IX and X had gone on an indefinite strike, which lasted for over a week, demanding upgradation of the school in their village, saying they would face harassment and even molestation while travelling to the senior secondary school three kms away. Thirteen of them had sat on a hunger strike.
The health of many of the fasting girls had also deteriorated. Despite Sharma assuring on Monday that the school would be upgraded, the students had continued with the stir, saying that until they received official word from the government, they would not relent. With news pouring in that the government had issued the formal notification, there were scenes of jubilation as the girls called off the stir. Officials of the Rewari district administration and those from the education department offered a glass of juice to the girls who were on hunger strike. "We are happy that our efforts have yielded fruit," said a beaming girl student who had sat on fast. For higher education after Class X, girls of the village had to go to Kanwali village, located 3 km from Gothra Tappa Dahina, village head Suresh Chauhan said. "We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII," one of the protestors had earlier said. Officials had earlier said the school could not be upgraded as it did not meet the condition of a minimum of 150 students required for the senior secondary level. The education minister today said the rules had been relaxed after discussion with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the Additional Chief Secretary of the school education department, P K Das. Asked to comment on the harassment of girls by anti- social elements while going to other villages for studies, Das said that besides the state government, it is also the responsibility of Panchayats and other prominent people of the village to come forward to confront such elements. Haryana has one of the lowest Child Sex Ratios (CSR) in the country. The state has also witnessed horrific crimes against women in the recent past, including the gangrape and killing of a 23-year-old woman, and the rape of a minor girl by her stepfather.
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